First drive: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in the UAE

First drive: 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in the UAE

2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray in the UAE
There are very few cars that generate the kind of hype that the all-new 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray has. The hype is warranted, judging by its initial photos and specs-sheet alone. But what is it like in real life?

While we had our doubts earlier about the C7-generation’s styling, they were erased when we saw the car in person. It looks absolutely phenomenal. It got a lot of attention from passing car enthusiasts, although for some inexplicable reason, we were also tailgated and cut off more than usual by vans and taxis. What did they think it was?

Inside, the cabin is miles ahead of how it used to be in Corvettes. There’s extensive use of stitched leather all over the dash and doors, with some surfaces padded even. There’s also some aluminium and carbon-fibre trim thrown in there for good measure, while the in-car tech is as much as you’ll ever need in a sports car, such as a touchscreen nav, a partial LCD gauge cluster and a heads-up display, among other gadgetry. Good a/c too, something the Europeans can’t seem to figure out.

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Space is actually pretty good inside this 2-seater liftback coupe. Boot volume is enough for weekly groceries, but not much more, and having only a piece of cloth stopping cargo from spilling forward onto the seats isn’t exactly ideal.

Powered by a big 6.2-litre V8 making 455 hp and the noise to match, it sounds impressive until you realise it’s not as fast as you thought it would be. The hype made it seem like it could take down the Nissan GT-R, but our test car felt no quicker than a half-price Camaro SS when it came to low-end kick in the September heat, hampered by a hesitant 6-speed automatic gearbox that took an eternity to kick-down gears. When you realise a Mustang makes 435 hp out of a 5.0-litre, it’s even less impressive. But then again, the Z06 exists for a reason.

But as funny as it may sound to armchair experts, the strength of this American sports car is actually in the handling. Our car came with the Z51 package that adds sportier suspension, a rear spoiler and other bits, and it’s apparently the only version that local dealers are currently offering. Cornering limits are as high as any number of rivals, Porsche 911 included, with immense grip and unnoticeable body roll. As a positive, the paddle-shifters are reasonably quick at swapping gears as well, making for a much better driving experience than just leaving it to the lazy automatic mode.

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We spent most of our time in “Touring” mode, exactly because it turns the car into a comfortable cruiser on city streets and highway runs. The steering becomes ridiculously light, while the suspension becomes fairly compliant, to the point where care has to be taken to not bottom out when bouncing on speed-bumps. The road noise is moderate, while the exhaust burble is seemingly subdued too.

In the intermediate “Sport” mode, the suspension stiffens up and the steering becomes firmer as well as gains some feedback, all commendable for being such a pronounced difference. The other two modes — “Weather” and “Eco” — we didn’t try out.

It’s not quite up to, say, “Porsche” standards when it comes to overall driving feel though. While the brakes are massive and the steering is sharp, both feel the tiniest bit spongy to control, damping out your fine-tuned inputs, as if to keep things as smooth as possible for potential piss-poor drivers. With five driving modes, it would’ve been better if the aggressive “Track” mode would’ve sharpened things up further than it did.

Still, the Corvette is a superb sports car, better than ever now that it finally got the extra attention it deserved from General Motors. It’s a surprisingly good daily driver, and judging by the stiffness of its chassis, it holds a lot of promise in more powerful upcoming versions, although at a whopping Dhs 330,000 that local dealers are asking for the Z51, it’s already nudging into Porsche 911 territory. But updates are forthcoming already, with the 2015 model getting a new 8-speed automatic in addition to the 7-speed manual option. If they can sort out the crispness of the controls and fine-tune the mechanical package further, it can truly become a world-beater.

For UAE prices and GCC specs, visit the Chevrolet Corvette buyer guide.

What do you think?

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Comments

  1. For me, the Viper is the ultimate American car I would like to own one day

  2. this is very nice.

    the nicest low-budget-racer there is currently.

  3. Finally! Thanks for this one. Everybody dying over this car but you mentioned both good and bad points. I still want it! Will go check it out.

  4. The car might be great but dealing with the local dealer here is a nightmare! No test drives available, no show room car and a complete and utter lack of any interest in selling the car!.

    Never again

  5. i consider the stingray as poor man’s 458 Italia….

  6. car has a long history…it might not be the fastest the flattest in the corners..or most outrageously sounding..but its a VETTE enough said..

    This market specially UAE is too young to remember the long standing history and tradition behind owing a vette…GERMANS are yet again over rated…for the 10% performance differential not much substance is gained..except a few truly exceptional sedans and SUV’s

  7. “The corvette felt no quicker than a half-price Camaro SS when it came to low-end kick in the September heat” . This is probably due to the weight,frame and suspension differences. You feel acceleration less with a better performing car. I would never go by feel…

  8. I’m not really sure what the “person” who test drive cars for your website really do!! But based on such reviews, I would guess just cruise around in the city and reverse park it somewhere for the photos. Comparing a corvette to an SS!! Not even a ZL1!!! You really know alot about cars and how to keep you audiance interested? When you test drive a car you can’t just say “our test car felt”, you are testing the car, aren’t you? so test it and let us know whether it’s fast or not. And by the way, we do care about how much the car took from 0 to 100, what is the braking distance and it won’t be bad to take it into any drag strip (which are all over the country) and tell us what it did for a 1/4 mile or the lap time, so we can compare it to other cars with the figures you got instead of your “feelings and thoughts”. Based on this review, I’m sure many people decided not to buy a Vette anymore as i did (sorry Vette but you are a bad car, look at your HP and mustangs HP). Anyways, this was a good read!! Here are 5 minutes for reading and another 5 for writing that I’m not getting back…

    • Good bye! Will miss you! Clearly you are bothered about having bought one, but I doubt you drove the cars it was compared to for more than 5 miuntes. I have driven that exact same red car and can confirm that it’s a poor performer, maybe because it is an abused press car, or maybe it cannot handle the hot weather. But that is not the writer’s problem.

    • Mashfique Hussain Chowdhury Author

      We’re the only ones who publish as-tested local performance figures in our Road Tests. This is a First Drive, as not enough time was given for a full Road Test. And as owners and testers of several performance cars over the years, we can “feel” everything and not be blindly impressed by anything that’s faster than a Nissan Tiida, like some other reviews you may have read. Case closed.

    • When was the last time you took your car to a drag strip? It’s irrelevant if the car doesn’t perform in the real world.

    • You want to compare HP to a ZL1? The ZL1 has 580 hp and will murder the corvette.

    • Most other local reviews of the Corvette on other sites are paid ads, which you can see from the writing style. But here’s another honest one from The National:

      “You see, despite the myriad advances and improvements, and despite the magnificent engine’s capabilities and propensity for liquidising the rear tyres, the entire car is let down by the one thing that appears to have been a complete afterthought: its six-speed automatic gearbox. It’s as though GM spent every last development dollar on everything else and thought “That will have to do” when it came to the thing that puts that power onto the road.

      By all accounts, the manual is a different matter, but the auto is nothing more than a slush box that hampers progress and feels horrid. It takes an age to wake up and shift into the next ratio, and, even when it does, it manages to feel like it didn’t really want to be bothered. Drive this after something like the Jaguar F-Type, with an automatic that’s so responsive that it feels like a dual-clutch racing ’box, and you’ll see how far short the new Corvette is.”

    • It seems that I have stepped on something over here, which is a bit more interesting to waste my time on so sorry @Journo you won’t be missing me much for now. @Mashfique it took me a whole lot of courage to reply to this after you have closed the case so give me some credits. However, the fact that you owe performance”s” cars so I got to trust you, I know what you mean as I drive a Tiida and can’t be trusted. @Hamid they don’t allow Tiidas in. @Ahmad if by murder you mean take the edge and maintain it, then you are right, you might wanna read about power to weight ratio and how a car’s aerodynamics plays a role in this universe. And I’m sure you know that there is a difference between BHP and WHP and if you simply study the drive train of a Corvette you will be surprise to the level of engineering it has got, but why do so I’m sure you can tell by how it feels too. Last but not least for @Journo thanks for passing by my comment again, so are to trying to convince me or convince yourself? Anyways, It seems I mess understood the first drive title. Cause actually I thought for a first drive you don’t ask your friend to give his new Vette for a spin at the parking lot I thought you go and request an official dealer for it and you gotta keep it for more than 5 minutes. Okay I know a spin or even the look is more than enough for you to “feel” the car and judge it as you are an owner and tester for “performance” cars but I just got to know that now so excuse me for being rude. You wanna be the only one who publish as tested, I will be more than happy to read your reviews and complement them just give me some info or even sense to do so. You may wanna compare it to a car with close HP/torque, RWD and with a close price? Incomparable? I know, it’s an iconic car. I don’t mind saying that the corvette is the worst car ever, I agree, just give me some solid info, Wanna use you feeling card then good luck with that. Can’t wait for your first drive with the new Z06, I’m sure this will be a great review against that. And by the way guys, (if this comment doesn’t get deleted) the case is still open for someone to close it. Chill out guys nothing personal here, just trying to keep the info in this universe clean.

    • Long. Looking for self-validation, are we?

  9. Motoring Middleast just admitted that GM is their biggest sponsor. No wonder all their Chevrolet reviews sound like ads lol. Why is GM paying websites to write positive things about this car if it is so good already?

  10. I swear that all these UAE guys complaining that the automatic is sluggish are all used to cars that are 2x the price of this. Like yeah, a Jaguar F-Type would definately have quicker shifts because it is a HIGH END car. It was meant for meant for guys with $70k-$90k paychecks. The Corvette on the other hand is meant for guys who just got to the GCC area a year or so ago with their measly $30k-$40k jobs to buy on Shariah loan and to live a bit! Like ok, you feel it is bad probably because the performance doesn’t make you think of Scarlett Johanssen when you are bending into the turns, but so are cars like the Dodge Charger considering that even though the new Hellcat would cost the same as the Corvette, it would in fact still be a sedan which most people won’t bat an eye to as literally almost every GCC Police Department (which has normal budgets that aren’t going for broke/bust like Dubai Police Department’s, hint: Bugatti Veyron) has a Charger Police Pursuit cruisers with the same Hellcat engine and specs! Honestly, I bet it is thieving, nitpicking guys like you who are keeping car dealers in the UAE from lowering their car prices! Like heck, you can get the same cars cheaper in Kuwait of all places over the UAE as people there aren’t soo hell bent on trying to uber-up cars which are good enough by making realistic relations to cars of similar categories rather pitting their biases based on vehicles that are out of its price category!! Like you guys are comparing freckles to blemishes, either way, they still show……

    • Before writing that long story, maybe you should’ve checked that your beloved poor man’s sports car is actually as expensive as a Jaguar F-Type in the UAE. No one with low salary are buying one. A Hellcat is cheaper and police don’t drive Hellcats. If you prefer to read a cover-up fake review, there are all the other local sites and mags here that are publishing them for you in return for payment. And I don’t even know how you are trying to say in the end. This review makes cars more expensive? Corvette is already expensive! The fake positive reviews in other sites made it expensive.

    • Usman, you are one daft dude, Honestly, if you see the price in other GCC countries, it is 30% less than in the entire UAE. Please be realistic as the only reason that it is even the same price as the F-Type are the import taxes and the scroogy ways of dealers in the UAE by not offering a bare bones base model, instead opting to offer a slightly revamped version just to satisfy your spoiled taste in cars which are American….. BTW, The police have the Police Pursuit, which uses a Naturally aspirated Hellcat Engine. (If you learned about terms, Hellcat is in reference to the model with racing components included, not the engine alone)nd what I was saying in the end was that the guy doing the review was nitpicking the corvette wayy too much. Like the Corvette here in USA (where I live currently) is $57,000, the F-Type is $72,000….Also, just because you UAE guys bust a nut to Ferraris doesn’t mean that a Corvette is a bad car, it just means that you guys have way too picky tastes for cars…Like srs, you guys on average drive cars that are 40% more expensive than their North American counterparts…..Also, in the Middle east, you can get loans that are far more affordable than the ones in the USA, hence why it is still in many aspects a Poor Man’s Ferrari! Heck, guys working fairly basic jobs in the USA who are bachelors pool up a year’s salary and pay a decent down payment for a base model for the car.

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